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Moving to Portugal From USA: The Definitive Guide

Why Are Americans Moving to Portugal?

Americans are moving to Portugal for a variety of reasons, including its safety and security, generous healthcare system, political stability, diverse landscapes, and temperate weather.

Additionally, Portugal's rich culture makes it an attractive destination that appeals to people from around the world. With all these benefits combined with easy access to the rest of Europe via air travel or ferry service, it's no wonder why Americans are choosing Portugal as their new home.

25 de Abril Bridge

How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Portugal?

The cost of living in Portugal is relatively low compared to other countries in the European Union. And compared to the USA, consumer prices in Portugal are 46% lower.

Depending on your lifestyle, the average cost of living for a single person sharing a house can range from €500–€800 per month ($590-$940 USD). Of course, prices vary greatly depending on where you live and what type of lifestyle you want to lead. Renting a 1-bed apartment or house could set you back anywhere from €700–€1000 per month ($750-$1,080 USD), while utilities could add another €100–€150 each month (approximately $110–$160 USD). Food prices vary but are generally very affordable in Portugal.

In general, if you plan carefully and save ahead of time for any big expenses (visas/permits/travel etc.), it's possible to enjoy a comfortable life in Portugal with around 1500 euros/month. Paying attention to seasonal sales and promotions can help stretch your budget even further!

Woman at her house

What Are My Visa Options?

Every day we see lots of Americans moving to Portugal. Those seeking to relocate and work in Portugal have several options when it comes to visas. US citizens with valid passports can apply for a Short-Stay Visa, which allows them to stay in the country for up to 90 days.

Worker Visa

If you plan on staying longer than that or looking for employment, you must obtain a Portuguese residence permit called an Autorização de Residência para Trabalho (work residence permit). This work residence permit grants workers the right to remain and work in Portugal for up to 365 days, renewable annually.

In order to be eligible for this visa, applicants must first secure a job offer from an employer in Portugal. The employer must make sure that the applicant is legally allowed to enter and work in the EU country by applying for a “Residence Authorization for Employment Activity”. Once that application is approved, the applicant can then apply for their visa at their local Portuguese consulate or embassy.

After obtaining all necessary documents and having them authenticated by the Portuguese government, applicants can proceed with their application. The process typically takes one to five months. Once approved, applicants will receive either an electronic authorization document or a physical card that allows them to stay and work legally in Portugal.

Men working

D7 Visa

Another widely known option is the D7 Visa.

This is a great option for people who will be living on a passive income from abroad, and also for people looking for a retirement visa.

Overall it's important that Americans looking into relocating and working in Portugal understand all requirements before starting their applications so they don't run into unexpected problems due to delays or rejections from immigration authorities later on down the line.

Man at the park

How Can Americans Get Permanent Residency or Dual Citizenship in Portugal?

The Portugal Golden Visa Program

Another great option, super famous among Americans, is the Golden Visa.

This Portuguese visa program was made for foreign investors and is an attractive option for Americans looking to relocate and work in the country. Many foreign investors choose this option, since it provides a path to permanent residence or even Portuguese citizenship after just five years, making it an attractive choice for those looking to establish roots in this beautiful country.

In addition, holders of this residency visa can benefit from free healthcare benefits under Portugal’s public healthcare system as well as access some economic incentives such as discounts on housing costs or reduced interest rates on loans. For those looking for additional tax benefits when relocating abroad, Portugal offers numerous options including lower wealth taxes on income generated outside the country or exemptions from real estate taxes when purchasing property in certain regions.

All these factors make the Golden Visa a great option for Americans looking for a way to legally live and work in Portugal while enjoying all its benefits at the same time – something that has proven increasingly attractive due to many Americans seeking new opportunities abroad during these times.

Applying for A Portuguese Visa


To apply for a residence visa, applicants generally need to provide documents including:

• Valid passport - Applicants must have a valid and unexpired US passport with at least 6 months validity remaining from the date of their arrival in Portugal. This document must be presented during the application process.

• Criminal background check - An official criminal record check is required from the US State Department or other relevant authorities. This ensures that applicants do not have any previous convictions or charges that would make them ineligible for residency in Portugal.

• Bank statements - Applicants must present recent bank statements proving financial stability and ability to support themselves during their time in Portugal.

• Health insurance coverage - Applicants are required to show proof of health insurance coverage valid in Portugal before they can be approved for their visa.

• Proof of legal entry into Portugal - In addition to providing a valid passport, applicants will also need proof of legal entry into the European country by either presenting a visa or an entry stamp from an immigration official upon arrival - this will be considered the day you were officially moving to Portugal.

• Other required documents - If you're applying for a worker visa, depending on the type of job being sought after, employers may require additional documents such as proof of qualifications/education, medical records, etc. as part of the application process. The Portuguese Immigration Office may also request additional information if necessary when assessing an application for approval.

Other Requirements

In addition to these documents, applicants may also be asked to provide additional items such as photographs or fingerprints if needed by immigration officials during processing. All submitted materials should be original copies and notarized by an authorized Portuguese notary public if necessary. Once all requirements have been satisfied and all documents have been authenticated by the Portuguese government, applicants can proceed with their application which typically takes one to five months depending on the case's complexity.

Pros And Cons of Living in Portugal

One of the main pros for Americans looking to live and work in Portugal is the country’s attractive Golden Visa Program.

Those who wish to relocate their families may also take advantage of family reunification policies which allow them to bring their immediate family members with them when applying for residency in Portugal.

In addition, the Portuguese healthcare system offers free healthcare benefits under its public medical scheme for Golden Visa holders - although you can hire private health insurance, along with access to economic incentives such as discounts on housing costs or reduced interest rates on loans. For those looking for additional tax benefits when relocating abroad, Portugal also offers numerous options including lower wealth taxes on income generated outside the country or exemptions from real estate taxes when purchasing property in certain regions. The Algarve region is particularly popular among American expats due to its mild climate year-round and its proximity to beaches, golf courses, and other places of interest.

On the other hand, there are some downsides that should be taken into consideration before the attempt of moving to Portugal. One of them is language — although many people speak English relatively well, it is still important to have at least basic knowledge of the Portuguese language if you plan on living here long-term. There may also be cultural differences that require some getting used to, most notably differences in food preferences and lifestyle. Take a look at this article!

Overall however, living in Portugal can be an extremely rewarding experience filled with plenty of culture, friendly people, and good weather year-round – all factors that make up one of the most desirable European countries for Americans seeking new experiences abroad.

Can Americans Drive in Portugal?

Yes, Americans are allowed to drive in Portugal with a valid American driver's license. However, obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP) is recommended in order to be able to drive legally and without any issues. This is especially important if the driver's license does not contain a photograph. The IDP is valid for up to one year after arriving in Portugal.

Best Places to Live for American Expats

Usually, the main options are:

1. Lisbon

2. Porto

3. Algarve

4. Coimbra

5. Madeira Islands

6. Azores Islands

7. Aveiro

8. Viseu

9. Faro

10. Braga

Discover The Best Portuguese Cities to Live.

Educational System

The education system in Portugal is based upon a comprehensive public education system, as well as numerous private educational options. The public education system is managed by the Ministry of Education and comprises preschool, primary school, secondary school, and higher education. Pre-schools are available for children between 3 to 5 years old and offer services such as language teaching, dexterity development, and socialization activities. Primary schools are mandatory for all ages 6 to 15 years old, while secondary school (ensino secundário) can be taken from the age of 16 until 18.

At the tertiary level, students can enroll in universities or polytechnic institutes across Portugal with courses ranging from engineering to liberal arts. These institutions are highly competitive and typically require students to take an entrance exam before they can be accepted into their desired program. To help encourage more students to pursue higher education opportunities, Portugal has implemented a number of initiatives such as student exchange programs and tuition discounts for certain classes of students.

In addition to public programs, there are several private educational options available in Portugal for those who wish to pursue a more tailored learning experience or have other needs that public schools may not meet.

The Portuguese educational system offers both public and private options to cater to different types of learners which ensures that everyone has access to quality education regardless of their personal circumstances or financial situation. With its long history of high academic standards combined with the current government’s commitment towards improving the system further, Portugal is set up well for those seeking a high-quality learning experience no matter what their background may be!


All the pros mentioned above are great reasons to move to Portugal from the USA. But if you would like to learn more about the life of an expat in Portugal and explore your options, get in touch with the Golden Visa Community.